India’s request for Facebook user data second only to U.S.

During the second half of 2019, Facebook witnessed about 50 instances of internet disruptions affecting 11 countries. India topped the list, accounting for 78% or 40 such disruption, a report said.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The number of user data requests from the Indian government to Facebook increased 28% during the six month period from July-December 2019 at 26,698 queries — the second highest globally, according to the latest Transparency Report by the U.S.-based social media network.

During the same period in 2018, the number of such requests to Facebook stood at 20,805 for 27,410 users or accounts. Likewise, the number for the first half of 2019 was 22,684 requests for 33,324 users or accounts.

Of the 26,698 queries for 39,664 users or account in the second half of 2019, Facebook said some data was produced in 57% cases. “Facebook responds to government requests for data in accordance with applicable law and our terms of service. Each and every request we receive is carefully reviewed for legal sufficiency and we may reject or require greater specificity on requests that appear overly broad or vague,” the company said in the report.

During the last six months of 2019, globally government requests for user data increased by 9.5% from 1,28,617 to 1,40,875. Of the total volume, the U.S. with 51,121 requests continues to submit the largest number of requests, followed by India, the U.K. (8,378 requests), Germany (8,013 requests) and France (7,001 requests)

In a blog post, Chris Sonderby, VP & Deputy General Counsel at Facebook, said, “As always, we scrutinise every government request we receive to make sure it is legally valid, no matter which government makes the request. If a request appears deficient or overly broad, we push back, and will fight in court, if necessary. We do not provide governments with ‘back doors’ to people’s information.”

Mr. Sonderby added that when content was reported as violating local law, but did not go against Facebook’s Community Standards, the company may limit access to that content in the country where it was allegedly illegal. During this reporting period, the volume of content restrictions based on local law decreased globally by 11% from 17,807 to 15,826. Of the total, Russia, Pakistan and Mexico accounted for almost half of global content restrictions.

Internet disruptions

As per the report, during the second half of 2019, Facebook witnessed about 50 instances of internet disruptions affecting 11 countries. India topped the list, accounting for 78% or 40 such disruptions. The total duration of these disruptions affecting Facebook services was 36 weeks, 6 days and 9 hours.

Other countries part of the list were Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mauritania, Myanmar, Sudan and Swaziland.

Some incidents of internet disruption in India that Facebook has taken into account includes 21 weeks, 1 day and 20 hours in Shopian district in Jammu and Kashmir from August 5 onwards, nearly nine days in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, in December, over seven days in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, in December, about eight days in Assam during December and about eight days in Meghalaya in December.

During the first half of the year as well, India had topped the list accounting for 40 of the about 70 internet disruptions that affected Facebook’s products in about 17 countries.

“Because we believe that disrupting internet connectivity can undermine economic activity and free expression, we also report the number of deliberate internet disruptions caused by governments around the world that impact the availability of our products,” Mr. Sonderby said.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 3:40:52 PM |

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